Mikey Garcia says the reason IBF opted to strip Terence Crawford of his 147-lb title with their organization is that he wasn’t going to defend against his #1 challenger, mandatory Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis, in his first defense after winning the belt.
‘Boots’ Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) had won the IBF interim 147-lb title last January, beating Karen Chukhadzhian. It wouldn’t have been fair to Boots if he had to wait another year for his title shot, so the IBF made the logical move of stripping Crawford, who likely would have vacated anyway.
The IBF allowed Errol Spence Jr. to put off the defense against #1 Boots Ennis on hold to face WBO welterweight champion Crawford for the undisputed championship.
Terence wasn’t going to fight Boots
Once the smoke cleared from the Spence-Crawford fight, the winner, Crawford, was expected to face the mandatory Boots. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen, so Crawford had to give up his IBF belt.
We don’t know if Crawford attempted to negotiate a step-aside deal with Boots Ennis, but given there hasn’t been any talk of that, it’s likely that he didn’t.
According to Mikey, the IBF goes by the rules of requiring their new champions to defend against the #1 contender soon after winning their belt, and when it was made clear that Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) had no plants on facing Ennis, left the sanctioning body with no choice but to strip him.
Crawford’s hands were tied due to his rematch clause with Errol Spence Jr, but Terence had also stated that he wanted only big fights, such as Canelo Alvarez & Jermell Charlo. He wasn’t interested in fighting Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) because he hasn’t been around long enough to become a superstar in the sport yet.
In other words, it would have been a no-win situation for Crawford if he fought Boots Ennis, and it wouldn’t have been an easy fight for the 36-year-old Nebraska native like his previous one against Spence.
Errol had taken off a lot of weight for his fight with Crawford and had been inactive for well over a year since his last fight in April 2022 against Yordenis Ugas. On top of that. Spence hasn’t looked or sounded well since his horrifying car crash in 2019 in Dallas.
It was perfect for Crawford to shine against this version of Spence, but it wouldn’t be the same for him to take on Boots Ennis. He’s still fighting at 100% capacity, firing on all eight cylinders, and he might expose Crawford as not being great that his fans were fooled into believing after his win over what’s left of Errol Spence after everything his body has gone through.
Boots Ennis earned his title shot
“I think Boots has earned a title shot. His last fight was for the IBF interim because Terence had his fight with Errol Spence,” said Mikey Garcia to 210BoxingTV, explaining why Terence Crawford was stripped of his IBF welterweight title and Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis elevated.
“The way the sanctioning bodies like the IBF, they do go by the book. When you’ve got a big major fight, like the Terence-Spence fight, and they have to make the #1 contender wait, a lot of times they do allow him to fight for those vacant interim titles, and that’s how Ennis was able to pick up that belt,” said Mikey.
Many boxing fans believe that Crawford is afraid to face Boots Ennis, because he’s in the prime of his career, and he’s not all worn down like Spence was from his weight issues, two a car crashes at 16 months of inactivity.
Crawford could have worked a step-aside deal to move Spence out of the way so that he could defend his IBF title against Boots Ennis, but it doesn’t seem likely that he did so.
If he did, he would have broadcast this information to the media & fans, letting them know he had tried his best to follow the IBF’s rules.
“When they ask, and they’re demanding Terence defend his title against Ennis, and Terence has other plans, you can’t force Terence to fight. If he has other plans or maybe moving up in weight or whatever, then that’s how they elevate a fighter to a full world champion,” said Mikey.
“That’s not the same as having a world champion wanting to fight you, and you just don’t fight him. He will have to defend his title or vacate, and I guess they [IBF] decided to strip him [Crawford]. That’s how that goes.
IBF requires new champions to defend against #1
“I know the IBF demands once you have your IBF title, you better defend against their #1 contender within nine months or the first title defense,” said Mikey. “Then you have nine months to fight whoever. It’s different rules. I guess they decided to apply the rules.
“If Ennis got that vacant [IBF interim] title a fight or two ago [in January against Karen Chukhadzhian], and Terence doesn’t want to fight him, then for sure, he should be considered world champion.”
It’s safe to say that Crawford wouldn’t have defended against Boots Ennis, and the IBF would have had to strip him anyway at some point. When you have a champion who has made up his mind that he ONLY wants to face the big names, like Canelo, they’re not going entertain the idea of fighting a young lion like Boots Ennis.
“When Terence wins this belt, normally the IBF demands that you defend your title against their #1 contender, I think in the first fight or within nine months,” said Mikey. “Different organizations have different time frames.
“When Spence had his [IBF] title, I don’t know what year he first won the title , but he did defend and fight a few guys [six] after that. If I’m not mistaken, he did fight [Lamont] Peterson,” said Mikey.
Did Crawford want to fight Ennis?
“When he fought me, that was his last title defense because, after that, it was a title unification that he had. Those don’t count as title defenses. Those are title unifications,” said Mikey about Errol Spence’s unification fight with WBC 147-lb champion Shawn Porter in November 2019.
“Then he fought Danny Garcia, and then he moved into that whole situation with COVID. So those rules [for the IBF] are not applying during COVID. No one was fighting during COVID. Then, it extended the time frame that he [Spence] was allowed to hold onto the [IBF 147-lb] belt.”
Spence’s situation was different when he held the IBF title because he was involved in two car crashes and further interrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Even with all of that, Spence still defended his IBF title against Danny Garcia in 2020 and Yordenis Ugas in 2022.
Errol wasn’t trying to swerve a dangerous Boots Ennis, which is what some boxing fans believe Crawford was planning on doing.
“Then he finally fought Danny Garcia [in December 2020], which was a voluntary title defense. So, the time frame can be different,” said Mikey.
“When I fought [Sergey] Lipinets, it was March of 2018 for his IBF at 140, and they asked that I defend against their #1 contender. I forget who it was, but I had different plans. ‘No, I’m coming back down to 135 to fight Robert Easter.’ So they said, ‘Okay, you have to vacate the title,’ which I did right away.
“I know they [IBF] do everything by the book, but when you have COVID, and you have an accident, you got stuff that’s not really in your control, they can also be a little more flexible, and that’s what they did.
“That’s why they [IBF] gave ‘Boots’ Ennis the opportunity to fight for one of those titles in the hopes that in the future or real soon that Ennis could get that title shot against Crawford. But like I said, maybe Crawford doesn’t really want [to fight Ennis], has different interests, fight somewhere else at 154 maybe. I don’t know, and that’s why they have to apply those rules.
“Like I said, different sanctioning bodies have different opportunities, different time frames. You got to ask them. I’m just going by what I can assume. That’s usually how it is.
“As far as politics, like that kind of situation. The audience has difficulty understanding sometimes because they’re not so deeply involved and don’t understand the rules of why they’re demanding one guy to fight this guy versus this guy having a voluntary title defense. Like I said, they’re not so informed.
“I’m only informing a little of it because that’s the little bit that I can understand, but every case is different. Every situation, every fighter is a little different with different circumstances.
“Like I said, I had to vacate those titles because I didn’t care for those fights that the IBF demanded, and I fought those guys that I did. Eventually, I had to vacate the WBC as well.
“When I moved up to fight Errol Spence, I had just vacated the IBF, and the WBC said the same thing. ‘Hey, what are your plans? We’ll allow you to move up to 147, but what’s at 135? Are you coming back down?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not,’ so I had to vacate that one too. So, it just happens,” said Mikey.